The most recommended books about artistic inspiration

Who picked these books? Meet our 28 experts.

28 authors created a book list connected to artistic inspiration, and here are their favorite artistic inspiration books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Light Is the New Black: A Guide to Answering Your Soul's Callings and Working Your Light

Claudia Amendola Alzraa Author Of The Transformational Path: How Healing, Unlearning, and Tuning into Source Helped Me Manifest My Most Abundant Life

From my list on completely transforming your life.

Who am I?

I’ve known I was “special” since I was a child. I saw, felt, and heard things that others did not. Eventually I embraced my clairaudient mediumship gifts and turned it into a thriving business, allowing me to live a life of purpose: helping others find their passions and live their most joyful lives. But the journey never ends; I am always on a mission to transform. Consistently, literature has been where I turn when I am seeking wisdom on becoming the best version of myself. I also pursued certification as a Book Therapist - the first thing I’ll recommend to friends, family, or clients is the best book for their dilemma!

Claudia's book list on completely transforming your life

Claudia Amendola Alzraa Why did Claudia love this book?

If you’re feeling lost in life, this is the book you’ll want to pick up.

Written in short philosophical essay format, Light is the New Black guides you on a transformative journey of self-discovery, purpose, and spiritual Awakening. It offers insights and practices to overcome fears, align with your true calling, and live a life of meaning. 

The format is easy to digest, the content is relatable and impactful, and this book gave me the courage to follow my intuition - leading me to a life filled with meaning, joy, and focused on using my gifts to professionally help others. And while it may not be the go-to for many already knee-deep in their spiritual practice, it’s a palate cleanser when you need to realign to your inner light and authentic self.

By Rebecca Campbell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Light Is the New Black as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Follow what lights you up, and you'll light up the world. Light Is The New Black is a guidebook for a new breed of women who are here to be bright lights in the world - modern-day lightworks who agreed to be here at this time in history. In order to thrive in this new age, everything we do must. Be an authentic expression of who we truly are. Light Is The New Black will guide you back home to the callings of your soul so that you can light up the world with your presence. Rebecca Campbell had her…


Book cover of Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners

Augusta Scattergood Author Of Making Friends with Billy Wong

From Augusta's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Avid reader Flaneur, in the traveling urban explorer sense Friend

Augusta's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Augusta Scattergood Why did Augusta love this book?

This spring Naomi Nye did a reading near me and a friend who knows her took me along. What a night! In the signing line, I got to tell her how much her poems have meant to me.

In a year that’s had its struggles, I’ve turned to poetry. Memorizing poems and attempting to understand them has made me hope writing could be fun and rewarding again. 

I loved Voices in the Air for inspiring me, for being so beautiful and yet so accessible. It’s a book for young readers, but it’s one I keep close.

By Naomi Shihab Nye,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Voices in the Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

"Nye once again deftly charts the world through verse."-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A beautifully constructed, thoughtful, and inspiring collection."-School Library Journal (starred review)

Young People's Poet Laureate and National Book Award Finalist Naomi Shihab Nye's uncommon and unforgettable voice offers readers peace, humor, inspiration, and solace. This volume of almost one hundred original poems is a stunning and engaging tribute to the diverse voices past and present that comfort us, compel us, lead us, and give us hope.

"I think the air is full of voices. If we slow down and practice listening, we hear those voices better. They live…


Book cover of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Miles Borrero Author Of Beautiful Monster: A Becoming

From my list on living this wild and precious life to its fullest.

Who am I?

I’m a trans, Latinx yoga teacher, writer, and musician who transitioned at the age of 40. Before that, I’d spent most of my life trying to live by someone else’s rules…only to realize, when my dad was dying, that I was not truly living. The funny thing is, as an artist and teacher, I’d dedicated myself to helping others live their lives to the fullest but had not granted myself the same courtesy. Sometimes, our lessons are hard-won. The books on this list have been beacons of hope and treasure trove chests of inspiration for me, as I hope they will be for you, too. 

Miles' book list on living this wild and precious life to its fullest

Miles Borrero Why did Miles love this book?

This book is pure genius. I have listened to it at least once a year since it came out. Not only is it brilliant, inspiring and oozing in grounded positivity, but it is also the best manifesto I have read on creativity.

Chock-full of fantastic stories that delight the senses, it is funny, devastating, and irresistibly magical. Listening to it in Liz’s own voice is totally the way to go. She is so inviting and warm and makes me feel loved and held.

The best part is that she makes a sound case for my creativity, the fact that it matters and is a worthy undertaking, purely because it gives me joy and pleasure. This book changed my life.  

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Big Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert's books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process - and showing us all just how easy it can be. By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear. Whether you long to write a book, create…


Book cover of The Storyteller's Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On and Others Don't

Mark Leruste Author Of Glow in the Dark: How Sharing Your Personal Story Can Transform Your Business and Change Your Life

From my list on personal storytelling to grow your business.

Who am I?

As a kid I used to sit around the table, hearing my French grandparents share stories about life during the Second World War and helping the French Resistance movement. I remember seeing my mum sitting down to interview my French grandad about his life and getting captured near Dunkirk as a young French soldier. That’s where my love for storytelling was born. By the age of 26 I had interviewed over 100+ government officials and business leaders across 7 countries. By 2021 my podcast The Unconventionalists won “best-interview podcast” at the podcasting for business awards. I wrote Glow in the Darkto help entrepreneurs and business leaders impact the world with their story.

Mark's book list on personal storytelling to grow your business

Mark Leruste Why did Mark love this book?

I reviewed this book a while back (when I still had a hipster beard) but it's a great book that dives into why storytelling is so important and shares examples of leaders who have used storytelling as a great tool to influence and empower. It's also a powerful reminder that, as humans, we've been using storytelling since the dawn of time to communicate and influence. If you need convincing as to why you should add storytelling to your arsenal, read this book.

By Carmine Gallo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Storyteller's Secret as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How did an American immigrant without a college education go from Venice Beach T-shirt vendor to television's most successful producer? How did a timid pastor's son surmount a paralysing fear of public speaking to sell out Yankee Stadium, twice? How did the city of Tokyo create a PowerPoint stunning enough to win them the chance to host the Olympics?

They told brilliant stories.

Whether your goal is to sell, educate, fundraise or entertain, your story is your most valuable asset: 'a strategic tool with irresistible power', according to the New York Times. Stories inspire; they persuade; they galvanize movements and…


Book cover of The Most Magnificent Idea

Helen H. Wu Author Of Long Goes to Dragon School

From my list on children’s reads about perseverance.

Who am I?

I’m a children’s book author, illustrator, translator, and book reviewer. I’m the author of Tofu Takes Time, illustrated by Julie Jarema, and Long Goes To Dragon School, illustrated by Mae Besom. I was born and raised in Hefei, China, and moved to the US in my 20s. Being fascinated by the differences and similarities between cultures, I love to share stories that empower children to understand the world and our connections. Children’s picture books have the potential to pass on the joy from generation to generation. As an art lover, I also find it very entertaining and soothing to simply enjoy the artwork of picture books. 

Helen's book list on children’s reads about perseverance

Helen H. Wu Why did Helen love this book?

The girl protagonist loves to make things from her various wild ideas. Her brain is an “idea machine.” Then one day… the girl can’t come up with a single idea for what to make. She tries everything: brainstorming, gathering new supplies, even jumping to shake an idea loose. But nothing works. The author ingeniously captures the ups and downs of the creative process. This book offers a terrific character education lesson in patience and perseverance. It will inspire young makers and visionary creators and encourage them to believe that an idea is sure to come if they just give it the opportunity.

By Ashley Spires,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Most Magnificent Idea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

The long-awaited sequel to the runaway bestseller The Most Magnificent Thing that readers have been clamoring for!

The girl in this story, with her dog at her side, loves to make things. Her brain, she says, is an “idea machine,” so full of ideas that she can hardly keep up. But then one day … it isn’t. All of a sudden, the girl can’t come up with a single idea for what to make. She tries everything: brainstorming, gathering new supplies, even jumping up and down on one foot to shake an idea loose. But, nothing. The girl realizes, with…


Book cover of Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives

Elena Mutonono Author Of Grounded Growth: Sustainable and Profitable Online Teaching Business On Your Own Terms

From my list on online language teachers building their own businesses.

Who am I?

The start of my own online teaching business in 2010 felt both liberating and frustrating. I enjoyed working for myself but struggled to make my offers unique, attractive, sustainable, and successful. I had no idea how to make my voice heard in the highly-saturated and fast-growing online teaching industry. Following the advice of famous online business gurus, I lost track of what I wanted my business to accomplish and burned out following every online teaching trend there was. The books I’ve selected helped me align with my own vision and values, inspired me to overcome my limitations and succeed on my own terms.

Elena's book list on online language teachers building their own businesses

Elena Mutonono Why did Elena love this book?

I met the author, Adam J. Kurz, at a conference for creatives, and his story of starting and growing his creative business inspired me to buy this book. In the book Adam shares tiny, easy-to-read tips for creatives who want to share their work with the world in their own unique and authentic way. Each page of the book is perforated so you can tear it out and send it as a small reminder to a friend. I love the message in the title – things are what you make of them – and this book offers you a unique perspective on failure, success, creative block, fear, starting again, and organizing your work life so you can enjoy it. 

By Adam J. Kurtz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Things Are What You Make of Them as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Adam J. Kurtz wants you to feel better. About yourself. About the world. About the creative process." -Adweek
 
Insights and inspiration for anyone who makes art (or anything else) from someone who's been there (and maybe still is).

From the creative mind and heart of designer Adam J. Kurtz comes this upbeat rallying cry for creators of all stripes. Expanding on a series of popular essays, this handwritten and heartfelt book shares wisdom and empathy from one working artist to others in his signature tone: empathetic, vulnerable, inclusive, and conversational. Perforated tear-and-share pages make it easy to display the most…


Book cover of The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

Marge Pellegrino Author Of Neon Words: 10 Brilliant Ways to Light Up Your Writing

From my list on creative jump starts whatever your medium.

Who am I?

As a kid, I loved how words on a page transported me. Later, I was astounded by how the words I wrote myself could help me solve problems, deepen my understanding, and expand my thinking. Over time, that writing offered clarity and built my confidence. And in my most challenging times, writing has saved me over and over again. Learning to observe like a writer or an artist continues to help me be more present in my life. Sharing expressive writing experiences with others, during a 35-year career as a writer and workshop facilitator, allowed me to witness how this creative engagement offers a respite while building resilience and joy in others too.

Marge's book list on creative jump starts whatever your medium

Marge Pellegrino Why did Marge love this book?

When I first heard about The Artist’s Way, I doubted that this was a book for me. Was I wrong! Over the next year, I met monthly with a visual artist to process each chapter. We discussed prompts, our artist date, or what we wrote from the suggested journaling. The invitations at the end of each chapter led me to work that fed my spirit. Transforming theory into action exercised my creative muscles. The variety of creative engagements encouraged a rich body of work and a new confidence, while the book’s quotes introduced me to other thinkers. Artist’s-Way work not only strengthened my words on the page, but my nonprofit and library work flourished as well. I credit The Artist’s Way for pushing my work into award-winning territory.

By Julia Cameron,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Artist's Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Artist's Way provides a twelve-week course that guides you through the process of recovering your creative self. It aims to dispel the 'I'm not talented enough' conditioning that holds many people back and helps you to unleash your own inner artist. Its step-by-step approach enables you to transform your life, overcome any artistic blocks you may suffer from, including limiting beliefs, fear, sabotage, jealousy and guilt, and replace them with self confidence and productivity. It helps demystify the creative process by making it a part of your daily life. Whatever your artistic leanings, this book will give you the…


Book cover of On the Origin of Tepees: The Evolution of Ideas (and Ourselves)

Alex Mesoudi Author Of Cultural Evolution: How Darwinian Theory Can Explain Human Culture and Synthesize the Social Sciences

From my list on cultural evolution.

Who am I?

I am Professor of Cultural Evolution at the University of Exeter, UK. In my research I use lab experiments and theoretical models to understand how human culture evolves. Since my undergraduate psychology degree I have always been attracted to big ideas about how evolution has shaped human minds. Yet evolutionary psychology, with its stone age brains frozen in time, seemed unsatisfying. This led me to cultural evolution, with its grand idea that the same evolutionary process underlies both genetic and cultural change. Humans are not just products of countless generations of genetic evolution, but also of cultural evolution. This view of humanity is grander than any other I’ve come across.

Alex's book list on cultural evolution

Alex Mesoudi Why did Alex love this book?

This is probably the best pop-science book on cultural evolution that I have read. It’s written by Johnnie Hughes, a nature documentary maker who has since worked on series such as Netflix’s Our Planet. It’s half science book, half travelogue, telling the story of Hughes and his brother’s road trip across the USA, like a mini Voyage of the Beagle. As they go, they explore how the design of teepees has evolved over time to take the varied forms that are currently seen in Native American communities. This is a really entertaining way of introducing the idea that ideas evolve.

By Jonnie Hughes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Origin of Tepees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why do some ideas spread, while others die off? Does human culture have its very own “survival of the fittest”? And if so, does that explain why our species is so different from the rest of life on Earth?

Throughout history, we humans have prided ourselves on our capacity to have ideas, but perhaps this pride is misplaced. Perhaps ideas have us. After all, ideas do appear to have a life of their own. And it is they, not us, that benefit most when they are spread. Many biologists have already come to the opinion that our genes are selfish…